Ronnie Lott shares the spotlight

By Bonz Otsuki on November 12, 2003

When you see Ronnie Lott hunker down to chat with a hospitalized child, it’s immediately clear why he and his wife, Karen founded a charity to help children. The 10-time Pro Bowler, 4-time Super Bowl winner is one of the most feared and respected players in the game. His former coach at the San Francisco 49ers, Bill Walsh, called him “the best defensive back who every played.” With children, he is simply the best.

During a recent visit to UCSF Children’s Hospital, Lott crouched down to talk face to face to a child propped up on pillows in a little red wagon, an intravenous medication pole wheeling along behind. The boy was shy at first, then he smiled; then the big man and the tiny child with tubes in his arms became teammates, trading a thumbs up.  And the kid knew, because Ronnie told him so in a gentle voice aimed only at him, that every person is a star, in his own way.

So it’s not surprising that at the NFL Monday Night Game on November 17, when the San Francisco 49ers retire his Number 42 jersey ? the highest honor a team can bestow—Lott is sharing the spotlight with others. That includes his other team, All Stars Helping Kids, a charitable organization he leads with his wife, Karen as well as Glide Memorial Church, whose choir will sing at halftime.

And to honor Lott’s role as a community leader, the 49ers have invited more than 100 volunteers from UCSF Children’s Hospital to the stadium.  Ronnie and Karen Lott are honorary co-chairs of a first-time-ever fundraising benefit for the hospital.  The volunteers will be selling tickets to sponsor a light—or a string of lights—on the huge Macy’s tree that shines throughout the holiday season in Union Square.

Each $10 sponsorship ticket sold at the game comes with a souvenir pin of the holiday tree—and every purchase before halftime is a chance to win a Number 42 jersey autographed by Ronnie Lott.

The tree lighting ceremony, at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 28, is a traditional gift to San Francisco from Macy’s West. Tickets to sponsor lights can be purchased now through Dec. 24, online at www.ucsfhealth.org/tree or call toll free (888) 689-UCSF.

Thanks to Macy’s West and other major sponsors, every penny of these tax-deductible donations will go to essential child- and family-centered programs that aren’t always covered by insurance. They will help families cope at the most difficult of times ? when their child is faced with a life-threatening illness.

At UCSF Children’s Hospital, the Lotts and All Stars Helping Kids have supported many programs to help the staff provide enriching and comforting experiences for young patients and their families. The All Stars Technology Room is one example—a place for children from toddlers to teens to learn and enjoy using computer games, the web, and teleconferences with kids in other hospitals. The All Stars Garden Courtyard is a place for parents to have some quiet time, and a parents’ resource room helps the parents keep in touch with the world.

Ranked as the best pediatric hospital in California and one of the top 10 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, UCSF Children’s Hospital is cradled within the larger UCSF Medical Center. The 180-bed hospital is a center for children with serious and life-threatening conditions from Northern California and around the world. It is renowned for discoveries that save tens of thousands of children’s lives each year and for its specialist physicians and surgeons in more than 40 pediatric fields.

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